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Greater Vision, Greater Cooperation
--To the Fifth Anniversary of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC). In March 2016, the LMC was officially lunched by leaders of China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam at the First LMC Leaders’ Meeting in Sanya, China.

“Shared river; shared future.” Since ancient times, the Lancang-Mekong River has been a natural bond of mutual support for countries in the basin. Rooted in the fertile soil, the LMC mechanism stays committed to the philosophy of development first, equal consultation, pragmatism and efficiency, openness and inclusiveness. Working together and moving in the same direction, the six countries are witnessing more enriched and substantive cooperation.

Over the past five years, the LMC paradigm featuring “leaders’ guidance, all-round cooperation and broad participation” has matched high expectations.

A multi-level and broad-ranging cooperation framework has been established, including the Leaders’ Meeting, Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Senior Officials’ Meeting and Working Groups’ Meeting. As of October 2020, three Leaders’ Meetings, five Foreign Ministers’ Meetings, seven Senior Officials’ Meetings and ten Diplomatic Joint Working Groups Meetings have been held.

LMC National Secretariats/Coordination Units have all been set up by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the six countries. Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on the LMC key priority areas have all been in place. The Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Center, Environmental Cooperation Center, Vocational Education Training Center, Global Center for Mekong Studies (GCMS), Agricultural Cooperation Center and Mekong-Lancang Youth Exchange Cooperation Center have been successively established and are in smooth and sound operation.

Facing the severe challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders of the six countries held the Third LMC Leaders’ Meeting (virtual) in August last year, which injected new impetus to the jointly fight against the pandemic and the restoration of regional economic vitality. According to the commitments made at the meeting, China has officially provided Lancang-Mekong Countries with hydrological data of the Lancang-Mekong River for the whole year and has taken the lead in opening the website of the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Information Sharing Platform to actively share relevant information. This fully demonstrates China’s goodwill and sincerity as a responsible upstream country and illustrates the six Lancang-Mekong Countries’ ability of managing well the Lancang-Mekong water resources cooperation.

Over the past five years, the LMC efficiency featuring “progress and results delivered daily, monthly and annually” has presented remarkable highlights.

We have been committed to jointly building a community with a shared future for the Lancang-Mekong Countries by upholding the spirit of mutual benefit, giving full play to the advantages of geographical proximity and economic complementarity, adhering to the coordinated development of the three pillars of political and security issues, economic and sustainable development, and social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and giving priority to cooperation in the fields of connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economy, water resources, agriculture, and poverty reduction.

Great importance has been attached to strengthening the development of connectivity, and great efforts have been made to deeply promote the construction of a large sub-regional connectivity network integrating infrastructure, rules and regulations, and personnel exchanges. Vigorous efforts have been conducted to foster the construction of China-Laos and China-Thailand railways, the upgrading of Pan Asian railways, and river channel improvement and ports upgrading.

The six countries’ support of the docking of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor with the LMC is worth mentioning. Through this important channel covering Western China and connecting ASEAN and Eurasia, the Mekong Countries can export agricultural products and other advantageous products first to China and then to Central Asia, Europe and other regions. The vast market together with more efficient and convenient trade services with lower costs are thus shared, which help promote the growth of cross-border trade, deepen regional connectivity and development and provide new impetus for the post-pandemic recovery of Lancang-Mekong Countries.

Over the past five years, the Lancang Mekong culture featuring “equality, sincerity, mutual assistance and kinship” has been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.

Thanks to the free cataract surgeries of the Mekong Brightness Action, about 800 patients in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have regained sight. The second phase of Lancang-Mekong Brightness Action is also being carried out in an all-round way. About 10,000 primary and secondary school students from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are being financially aided to receive eye health examination and get glasses as needed.

China offered international scholarships for the five Mekong Countries to promote language exchanges and training in the six countries, and has provided an annual amount of 18,000 government scholarships in three years.

People to people and cultural exchange projects have become increasingly active, including Lancang Mekong International Film Week, Lancang-Mekong Youth Training Camp for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Lancang-Mekong Tourism Cities Cooperation Alliance, Lancang-Mekong Women’s Forum, and the dialogue of Buddhist leaders from the six Lancang-Mekong Countries. Cooperation in culture, youth, women, tourism, religion and other fields have been deeply engaged by the six countries and have been bearing fruit.

At present, a “stage” has been built between the LMC and other regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms such as ASEAN, Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program, and Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the synergy between the LMC and the Belt and Road Initiative, South-South Cooperation and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is being demonstrated. The LMC has become one of the most dynamic and potential mechanisms in the region. Practice has proved that the LMC, which is rooted in traditional friendship and built on common interests, conforms to the trend of the times and echoes the people’s will. The LMC will surely play an important role in promoting the buidling of a community with a shared future in Asia.

China and Thailand are comprehensive strategic cooperative partners that enjoy stable, pragmatic and dynamic bilateral relations. China has been Thailand’s largest trading partner for many consecutive years. In 2020, the trade volume between China and Thailand rose against the downward trend and reached US$98.63 billion, an increase of 7.5% year on year. Facing the challenges of the pandemic, the two countries have been working closely, helping each other and overcoming difficulties together. With the successful development and application of China’s COVID-19 vaccines, China honored its commitment and gave priority to Mekong Countries for vaccines. The first batch of 200,000 and the second batch of 800,000 Chinese vaccines arrived in Thailand respectively in February this year and last weekend, fully reflecting China and Thailand’s sincere friendship of sharing weal and woe.

Thailand is the original initiator of the LMC and has shared fruitful results from the cooperation. Taking the LMC Special Fund as an example, at present, three batches of 28 projects in Thailand with a cumulative budget of more than 255 million baht have been approved. These project covers a wide range of fields such as water resources, cross-border trade, rural e-commerce, agriculture, vocational education, health, environmental protection, etc. Among them, the forest poverty reduction demonstration zone project has been comprehensively launched in 8 communities in Buengkan Province. 20,000 tree seedlings have been planted with financial aid. Local people are being helped in poverty alleviation by increasing forest coverage, developing eco-tourism and forest economy. We have organized four cassava industry technical training courses to help boost the transformation and upgrading of cassava planting in Thailand and continuously tap the value of the cassava industry. More than 120 people have benefited in advance.

Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy is falling in recession. Anti-globalization and trade protectionism are rising. The circulation of industrial chains and supply chains is encountering difficulties. International trade and investment are shrinking. “Unity is strength.” Facing the various challenges, China is willing to join hands with Thailand and other Mekong Countries to forge more projects benefiting the people with franker communication, firmer determination, more coordinated paces and more effective measures. China is ready to work with Thailand and other Mekong Countries to jointly build the economic development belt of the Lancang-Mekong basin, foster a community with a shared future of the Lancang-Mekong Countries, and promote the LMC to a new height.

The Lancang-Mekong River witnessed the splendidness of the riparian countries and is marching towards the common dream of the people there. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation embodies a promising future. “Go! LMC!”

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